Taking solar panel manufacturing domestic has long been the goal of the U.S., and now, according to a report from Minn Post, the state of Minnesota looks poised to take the lead. Heliene, a solar panel manufacturer currently employing roughly 75 workers at its Mountain Iron plant, is planning a major expansion in the twenty million dollar range, and they have the support of both state and local government to get the job done.
Earlier in the year, Minnesota legislators made waves when they passed financial incentives to bring in a timber mill to Northern Minnesota. But that wasn’t the only move they were making at the time. A second project, this Mountain Iron solar facility expansion, was also in the works.
By expanding the solar panel plant, Minnesota is looking to diversify its economy. Known for their natural resources like wood, and iron ore production, the state is now looking to go green. And in a big, big way, as Heliene’s solar plant is poised to become the second largest solar manufacturer in the nation once the expansion has been successfully completed.
Heliene Speaks Up
Heliene’s president, Martin Pochtaruk, is looking to get in lockstep with the goals of current POTUS Joe Biden. In the interest of reducing our carbon footprint, Biden has declared a goal of becoming 50% solar by the year 2050. According to Pochtaruk, “Our product, made in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, is the simplest renewable energy engine to such electrification.”
The industrial park that saw the groundbreaking of the expansion is on lease to Heliene, with the facility being built in Mountain Iron with the specific goal of attracting big green energy projects. For decades, the region’s economy has leaned heavily on forestry and mining, but in the decades to come, city officials are looking toward renewable energy.
The industrial park sits directly across from U.S. Steel’s MinnTac taconite mine. Before Heliene took it over, another solar company, Silicon Energy, was its official resident. In 2017 Silicon Energy folded, under close scrutiny for its poor results despite receiving millions in aid from both state and local governments.
Heliene Moves In
Within months, Heliene moved into the park. Silicon Way is a street embedded in Minnesota mining history, with streets like Granite Street and Mineral Avenue nearby. But despite being in the middle of what feels like fossil fuel country, Heliene is looking to make green the wave of the future.
They’re a big company, and a big employer for the area. With roughly 75 employees, outside of mining and the school system, they’re arguably the next largest economic driver in the town. And it’s all local -- all domestic, bring solar panel manufacturing home to the U.S. Half of Heliene’s sales have gone right to Minnesota companies. After the expansion, they plan to provide solar panels out of state more often, but never out of country.
And the job growth is set to continue. Heliene is looking to add 60 new people post-expansion. The campus will increase in size from roughly 27,000 square feet to 95,000. There will be a new production line, new office space, new storage facilities, the whole nine yards.
What Does It Mean For Homeowners?
In a word: savings. By manufacturing solar panels right here at home, here in the good old U.S. of A., solar companies will save bundles by cutting out the middle men importers. No more tariffs either. All of these savings that affect the bottom line will be passed along to the consumer, a.k.a. the homeowner (you!).
And with solar rebates, incentives, and tax credits making solar more affordable than ever, bringing the supply chain domestic only makes going solar even more enticing. With zero down options, own or lease, and more, the time to go solar has never been better.
As more homeowners go energy independent, ditching their power companies’ rising costs and fees for good, the world will become a greener place. Carbon emissions go down, home values go up. Monthly energy bills down, lifetime savings up. Now whether you’re in Minnesota or any state in the country, that’s what we call a win-win-win.